Tag-Archive for » indian paintings «

Haren Vakil

Monday, November 30th, 2009 | Author:

Born in Mumbai in 1940, Haren Vakil is one of the upcoming Indian contemporary artists. The artist has had many solo shows in Canada as well as in India. Haren holds a degree in Architecture as well as a post graduate diploma from the Victoria College of Art, Canada. Haren worked as an architect and urban designer in India and the Netherlands.


Harn Vakil’s work is something that is surrealistic and striking. In fact in one of the interviews he has stated “My intent is to produce images which evoke wonder, surprise and amusement.” His art work takes you into a world that is full of fantasy. What is particularly interesting about this artistic personality is the way in which he intertwines reality and dream like situations. There are a lot many situations where you can see the artist’s interest especially in music painted on the canvas. Haren is particularly passionate about jazz and this can be seen in his work. In fact, he admits that he is influenced by his background in architecture and his experiences of various cultures.


Vakil’s work is pleasant and he takes us through images that are out of context. He uses certain objects and places them in situations one wouldn’t think of.  He uses bold bright colours with expressions on objects that leave you in amusement. Most of the images use monochromatic colours that are multicultural with diverse meanings.


Haren’s recent exhibitions include one held at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, in 2005; ‘Figure it Out’ at Fran Willis Gallery, Victoria, in 2003; and at Gallery 1248, Victoria, in 2001, 2000 and 1999.


Modern Indian Painting Movement

Monday, July 13th, 2009 | Author:

milkmaidModern Indian painting is quite different from ancient Indian paintings. There is a story behind movement of modern Indian paintings the foundation of which was laid in the art schools of Kolkata. This started to happen during the beginning of 20th century. During the initial days, the movement followed Indo-European genre of painting that was also known as the Company style. Modern Indian painting movement is a very critical chapter in Indian history because of the trends it started and values it stood for. India was fighting a political battle for liberation and the Indian artists were also trying to get rid of traditional mindsets. This emerging social consciousness was truly manifested through emergence of modern Indian painting movement.


Talking about the legends of modern Indian painting then Raja Ravi Verma is known as the first great modern painter in India who single handedly changed the Indian painting landscape. He was very fond of mythological themes. At the same time, he also mixed various regional elements and carved out beautiful paintings. He won several awards and recognition for his amazing art work. The tradition was well followed by legends such as Abanindranath Tagore and Havell. These two are credited with promoting Indian themes. Their single biggest contribution is encouraging young talent to express themselves freely and uninhibitedly.


The names in the modern Indian painting include several other big names like Nandlal Bose, Devi Prasad Roy, Sarada Charan Ukil, Asit Kumar Haldar and Jamini Roy. These artists took Indian paintings to a different level where class and expression reigned supreme. Their works speak volumes about the contribution they have made. The painters of this movement have made themselves immortal simply because Indian art was finally liberated from the clutches of tradition.

Some Facts about Murals

Monday, July 06th, 2009 | Author:

We have already seen some information about origin and history of murals in India. Let’s check the places in India where murals have been discovered. One of the earlier proofs of murals came from caves 9 and 10 of Ajanta near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. According to archeologists, these murals belong to 2nd century BC. The striking features of these murals are decorative motifs, costume details, figure types and attractive compositions. Most of these murals had predominately Buddhists subjects. Ajanta was not the only site to have murals during that era. Other sites with presence of wonderful murals were at Bagh in Madhya Pradesh, and Cave 3 at Badami in Karnataka. Kailsanatha Temple at Ellora and the Jain Cave shrine at Sittannavsal, Tamil Nadu are also known for linear styled murals.


The picturesque location of Ladakh gave civilization aesthetic wall paintings in Alchi and Hemis Monasteries. These murals belong to 11-12th century. Buddhist murals can also be largely seen in gomphas of Tabo Monastery in Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Mughal era gave India amazing paintings. Mughal style of painting was very much influenced from Persian style and that is clearly reflected in murals and miniatures. Even Rajput School of painting was very much influenced from Mughal style and the effects can be seen wall paintings at places like Deeg, Bundi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur and other places in Rajasthan.


South India was always a cultural hotshot. If one tries to go through paintings traditions of India, one need not go far from kingdoms of Cholas, Vijayanagaras and Nayakas. These kingdoms are shining lights of south Indian cultural richness. European style of painting also influenced Indian painting tradition. The examples can be seen in the Deccan art of Bijapur, Hyderabad, and Golconda schools and mural art of Kerala.

Pahari Paintings

Saturday, July 04th, 2009 | Author:

pahariOne of the rich but relatively less known traditions of Indian paintings is Pahari Paintings. As the name suggests the paintings are from the hills of India. The credit of this rich tradition goes to Rajput kings of Himachal Pradesh. The kings were known for their great taste of art and culture. They patronized the tradition of Pahari paintings during 17th to the 19th century. The beauty of this Northern state greatly inspired the artists to create mesmerizing pieces of art. Generally, the backdrop of these paintings is breathtaking landscapes of the mountain ranges. Pahari paintings are mostly in miniature style.


One interesting aspect of Pahari painting is sort of modification or evolution it has undergone in last few centuries. Three distinct schools of Basohli, Guler-Kangra and Sikh have clearly defined this wonderful tradition. If we talk individually about these schools then Basohli School refers to early stage of Pahari painting. It started in 17th century and it has some unique characteristics. The most distinct characteristics is usage of bright colors like red, brown, green and yellow in the background of art works. Mythological characters were the primary themes of this school.


Guler-Kangra School had its time during 18th century. This school lots of change in Basholi style. As the name suggests, this style got developed in Guler and Kangra area and boasted of particular traits. Guler-Kangra style was more subtle in nature and had more of a lyrical nature. Delicate and fresher hues gave a distinct feel to Pahari paintings. This was followed by Sikh school which incidentally was the last developmental phase in Pahari painting. Though, it did not last long because of its raw theme.

Indian Cave Paintings

Thursday, June 25th, 2009 | Author:

Last century witnessed lots of discoveries of cave paintings in India. In fact, this is not just an Indian phenomenon. Several countries have discovered cave paintings of pre-historic age. The tide turned in India in the year 1958 when Dr Wakankar discovered oldest Indian cave paintings at Bhimbetka caves in Madhya Pradesh. That was surely an archeological marvel that led to many more discoveries. The one found at Bhimbetka were as old as 20,000 years. Mostly primitive in nature, the cave paintings gave a certain indication of the time when Homo sapiens used in live in caves and were discovering the world.


This discovery was also significant in the light of the fact that we have no other records of our pre-historic ancestors. There are no written or oral records except these cave paintings. The discovery led to several other discoveries across the India. We also came to know a great deal about our ancestors. Places like Ajanta, Bagh, Ellora and Chhattisgarh have been found with historical cave paintings. Over 600 caves with paintings were found in Bhimabetka. The name Bhimabetka got its name from Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers.


The cave paintings of Bhimabetka clearly show usage of red and white color along with occasional green and yellow. Animal fat, vegetable dyes, colored earth and charcoal were used in paintings whereas brushes were made up of fibrous plants. The most surprising part was these paintings were still intact. Themes have been selected from everyday life like, hunting. Images of animals like elephants, tigers and wild boar etc can be seen in these cave paintings. Other themes include household occasions, dance and festivals. These cave paintings belong to seven different historical periods like upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Chaleolithic, Early historic and Medieval.

Pichwai Paintings

Saturday, June 13th, 2009 | Author:

pichwai-paintings_11057Many forms of Indian paintings are relatively unknown despite being rich in tradition in deeply rooted in culture. One of such forms of paintings is Pichwai painting. Originated in Rajasthan, it is basically a type of traditional fabric painting. Mostly used in temples of Shrinathji, pichwai painting is considered as quite refined and detailed in nature.  Krishna temples in Nathdwara are famous for such paintings. The main theme of these paintings revolves around Shrinathji and his exploits. It is not an easy task to make pichwai paintings. Made on rough hand spun cloth, pichwai paintings are painted and printed with hand blocks. Appliqué is used for weaving, embroidery and decoration purposes. The paintings have high religious roots and painters are religious people. Places like Nathwada and Udaipur are the hub of these paintings.


Temples at Nathwada celebrate cloth hanging ceremony. This ceremony is considered as very sacred amongst the devout. People use these clothes both as an offering as well as to take home as souvenir. Pichwai paintings use colorful embroidery and outlines are normally dark colored. Colors like yellow, green, black and cream are used in stitching whereas background is mostly in red color. Many painters also use gold threads in designing work. To highlight the outline, white color is used and velvet is used for gota work.  

The most interesting part about pichwai paintings are themes. It is not constant. In fact, theme is subject to mood and season. Different painters dedicate the art work in different seasons. For example, if you visit the place in winter, you will find usage of jamawar pattern in the paintings whereas pink lotuses are used during summer season. Anukooth refers to main pichwai that has god in a silver dress. Zardozi work, pearls and dabka are used for further decoration. Undoubtedly, pichwai paintings represent a great tradition of Indian art.


: Image courtesy indianetzone.com

Tantra Paintings

Sunday, May 31st, 2009 | Author:


Before getting deep into Tantra paintings let us understand the concept of Tantric philosophy. This philosophy primarily works on combining of body behavior and meditation. The two important elements are universe also known as macrocosm and physical body microcosm. According to the philosophy, when one combines body behavior in a disciple way along with meditation then a new source of power generates within that helps in controlling the outer world. This connection between macrocosm and microcosm is well represented through tantra paintings.

Tantra tradition is an integral part of Hinduism and it includes usage of mantra. The later term refers to symbolic speech. Tantra paintings are quite unique in the sense that the theme and images are very contrasting in nature. The images could be oblique, multivalent or abstract and are normally very complex. Quite layered in structure, tantra paintings are known to be obscure. The reason being, it reflects meditation on paper which also makes it as a symbol of worship to the tantric followers.

The creation of these paintings is very interesting. The process of painting is accompanied by chanting and meditation. That helps in invoking the deity. This ritual is also known as Pranaprathistha that later on helps in paintings getting power and energy. The colors mainly used are black, red, gold and green. One interesting aspect of these paintings is mandala or symbolic speech or diagrams. A regular part of tantric paintings, mandala is basically a symbolic geometric pattern. It symbolizes cosmos or microcosm. Mandala helps the followers in meditation and concentration. The best part about these paintings is the spiritual aura surrounding them. It is not just a form of art. It’s a form of meditation and manifestation of supreme power.

Tribal Art

Thursday, May 07th, 2009 | Author:

warliTribal art is a way of life. If anyone wants to know about a certain tribe and its culture then look at the art works produced by them. These art works offer best chance of looking into the philosophy of a tribe. Often depicted through colorful images, tribal art is nothing if not enchanting. Tribal art can also be described as traditional art of indigenous people. Numerous fascinating examples of tribal art can be found in regions such as India, America, Indonesia, Africa and Polynesia. These tribal arts have continued to flourish since centuries. It is a wonderful medium of expression for the tribes who have generally remained cut-off from the mainstream nation. For tribes, it is a form of recreation as well as celebration.



Warli paintings of India are the foremost tribal art in the Indian Territory. These paintings capture the life of the tribes and offer a valuable insight into the lifestyle of the tribes. Located in Maharashtra, warli tribe mostly resides in thatched mud-huts. The origin of this tribe goes back to Neolithic period between 2500 BC and 3000 BC. Whenever a wedding or birth ceremony takes place in the tribe, they celebrate it by adorning their houses with fascinating designs. Even during the harvesting season, paintings and designs on the walls are the most common method of celebration.


Warli Paintings have its own class, best represented in minimalistic style. The preferred color is white and background is almost always earthen. Philosophical and enlightening thoughts are manifested through these paintings. Design wise, simple lines and dots are mostly used in geometric fashion. Warli paintings are far away from any sort of pretentions and convey the message in the best possible way using minimum colors. Warli paintings have continued to exist in the modern era and as their popularity increases we are sure to witness many more of such profound paintings.


:- Image courtesy ignca.nic.in

Patua Paintings

Monday, April 27th, 2009 | Author:

lionThe beautiful specimens of Indian art can be found in all parts of the country. The beauty of Indian art lies in variation found from village to village and region to region. All the regions in India have their separate art culture. One of the lesser known but beautiful piece of paintings can be witnessed in eastern state of West Bengal. This state has thrived on producing amazing variety of Patua Paintings that are basically sheets of paper sewn together. Once sewn, paint is used on these structures. These sheets of papers basically contain mythological stories. The narration part is as appealing as the painting part.


With changing times, the themes have also changed. Socially relevant issues, historical events, floods, storms and other such ecological events apart from religious stories are wonderfully narrated on these sheets. Patua paintings have also evolved with time. During earlier times, clothes were used. Later on, they were replaced by handmade paper. The scroll used on the paintings always varies in size. The average length is mostly fifteen feet. However, it can be as short as four feet and as long as fifty feet.


The story narration part is done on different compartments of the pata. Like the length of the pata, the compartment part also does not have a fixed length. All the compartments have different episodes of the story. The artists of this special type of paintings do not follow a fixed religion. They follow both Hindu as well as Muslim rituals. However, the stories are inspired from Hindu mythology. Mostly, Patua artists are men. The fascinating part with this style of painting is they have continued to flourish and maintain their own tradition and style. With rising interest in regional and local paintings, Patua paintings are slowly gaining the recognition they so richly deserve.    

:- Image courtesy clayimage.co.uk